News Release 

Five new innovators join Chain Reaction Innovations in third cohort

DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne helps innovators accelerate energy and science tech-to-market.

Lemont, IL (April 242019) -- Five new innovators will be joining Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), the entrepreneurship program at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Argonne National Laboratory, as part of the elite program's third cohort.

The innovators were announced on Monday, April 22.

These innovators were selected following an extensive national solicitation process and two-part pitch competition, with reviews from industry experts, investors, scientists and engineers. More than 120 innovators applied to the program, with the top 11 participating in the Finals Pitch Competition held at Argonne on February 7.

"CRI provides an important linkage between the energy ecosystem and the laboratory. The innovators have an opportunity to continue developing and de-risking their technologies, while moving their tech closer to market readiness. Their exposure to investors and the energy community meanwhile brings fresh ideas and approaches to the scientists in the lab." -- John Carlisle, CRI director

Innovations in energy materials and advanced manufacturing made it to the final round, including those in water sensing and treatment, heat-reflective coatings, hydrogen technologies, energy storage, optical lithography and motor drive electronics. CRI's Cohort 3 will be embedded at Argonne for two years, beginning in June.

"CRI provides an important linkage between the energy ecosystem and the laboratory," noted CRIDirector John Carlisle. "The innovators have an opportunity to continue developing and de-risking their technologies, while moving their tech closer to market readiness. Their exposure to investors and the energy community meanwhile brings fresh ideas and approaches to the scientists in the lab."

The five new innovators in CRI Cohort 3 are as follows:

  • Khalid Alam (Northwestern University) 
    Freeze-Dried Biosensors for Water Quality and the Energy-Water Nexus
  • Yu Kambe (University of Chicago) 
    Direct Optical Lithography of Functional Inorganic Nanomaterials
  • Katie Kollhoff (Northwestern University)
    Water Treatment Sorbents
  • Kevin O'Connor (University of Missouri) 
    Dielectric Materials for High Density Capacitive Energy Storage
  • Gary Ong (University of Texas at Austin) 
    Nanocomposites for Elevated Temperature Hydrogen Technologies

Learn more about the innovators at the bottom of this article.

"Argonne unlocks new scientific frontiers that secure the country's energy future and deliver economic growth," said Argonne Laboratory Director Paul Kearns.

"The innovators leverage these resources: not only our lab facilities, but also our scientists' knowledge and mentorship as they develop their own technologies. The partnership benefits Argonne, as well as the innovators, who bring their market-facing clean-tech ideas to the table."

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Argonne's capabilities include three important DOE Office of Science user facilities -- the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, the Center for Nanoscale Materials and the Advanced Photon Source, the nation's highest-energy X-ray synchrotron for materials characterization. In addition, the laboratory is home to 1,600 scientists and engineers and a variety of other resources, such as the Center for Transportation Research and energy storage leaders ACCESS and the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR).

Applications for CRI's fourth cohort will open in September 2019.

For more information about Cohort  and their projects, go to:
http://chainreaction.anl.gov/innovators/cohort-3/.

About Chain Reaction Innovations

Chain Reaction Innovations provides a two-year program for entrepreneurs focusing on energy and science technologies. Selected annually through an application call, the program enables innovators to work on their technology full-time, de-risking their technologies with the help of leading experts and equipment from a national laboratory. Each cohort works to build their innovations into market-ready businesses.  CRI is located at Argonne and supported by area mentors from the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago, mHUB and the Purdue Foundry at Purdue University.

Chain Reaction Innovations is part of the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). EERE created the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs to provide an institutional home for innovative postdoctoral researchers to build their research into products and train to be entrepreneurs. The program is funded by EERE's Advanced Manufacturing Office.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to strengthen U.S. economic growth, energy security, and environmental quality.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.

Meet the Cohort 3 Innovators

Khalid Alam (Northwestern University)
Freeze-Dried Biosensors for Water Quality and the Energy-Water Nexus

Alam has developed cell-free biological sensors that users can modularly configure and program to create ?"smart" sensors that integrate multiple inputs and compute a single output. The sensor technology will help enable water security, identifying sustainable water sources for human and industrial uses.

Yu Kambe (University of Chicago) 
Direct Optical Lithography of Functional Inorganic Nanomaterials

Kambe, co-founder and CEO of NanoPattern Technologies, is enabling advanced quantum dot display manufacturing. Unique, patented inorganic ligand chemistry enables conversion of nanomaterial into photo-patternable ink with submicron resolutions.

Katie Kollhoff (Northwestern University)
Water Treatment Sorbents

Kollhoff leads the NUMiX Materials team that aims to mitigate the environmental impact of human activity by recovering heavy metals from wastewater processes. By using a patented sorbent, contaminants are extracted and solidified in a matter of minutes using only a fraction of materials needed for current processes. The sorbent then can be heat-treated to recover the starting material and valuable captured metal.

Kevin O'Connor (University of Missouri)
Dielectric Materials for High Density Capacitive Energy Storage

O'Connor seeks to address electrical energy storage density in capacitors, which is a limiting factor for size, cost and stability for electric vehicles and other applications. His technology leverages recent advancements in films with porosities at the nanoscale that allow vacuum/gas to operate at extremely high electric fields, enabling higher energy density and stability with respect to temperature, operating voltage and frequency.

Gary Ong (University of Texas at Austin)
Nanocomposites for Elevated Temperature Hydrogen Technologies

Ong is developing technology that will make hydrogen fuel cells and water electrolyzers perform better, which will enable replacement of fossil fuels with hydrogen fuels. His innovation builds on intermediate-temperature proton conduction on nanostructured metal oxide surfaces to achieve a multiple-order-of-magnitude increase in conductivity. The technology will allow devices to operate at higher temperatures to enable faster mass transfer kinetics, higher catalytic rates and reduced susceptibility to catalyst poisoning, yet be cool enough that they can be built with minor modifications to existing system components.

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